Two studies (N = 109 anxious and depressed patients; N = 94 depressed patients) investigated the role of autonomy as described in self-determination theory as a mechanism of therapeutic change in cognitive behavioral group therapy. Across both studies, results showed that higher need satisfaction for autonomy is related to improved outcomes, and that this relationship is mediated by improvement in cognitions. These findings support the tenets of self-determination theory in that patients who perceived their autonomy needs are satisfied while participating in cognitive behavioral group therapy experienced a greater reduction in negative thinking which was in turn related to more positive therapy outcomes.
Dwyer, L. A., Hornsey, M. J., Smith, L. G. E., Oei, T. P. S., & Dingle, G. A. (2011). Participant autonomy in cognitive behavioral group therapy: an integration of self-determination and cognitive behavioral theories. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 30(1), 24-46. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2011.30.1.24